Carved in stone, Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is a breathtaking beauty with an exceptional history and incomparable architecture.
At the heart of this monument is an influential face of religious reverence not only for Paris and the Catholic Church, but for the whole world. This is exemplified by how the whole world joined in the grief when one hell tried to claim the historic monumental structure last week.
Its influence is also evident in its affiliated institutions such as schools, churches, universities and health centers that span continents.
But what makes this structure a mystery of medieval magnificence?
Bishop Philippe Rukamba, President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda and Bishop of the Diocese of Huye, says that Notre-Dame is a monumental church that has reigned since the 13th century and has existed for more than 850 years.
“The French consider it a monument; for a long time this place has preserved beliefs and values for many,” he says.
“This building has roots; it was born of the combined efforts of people concerned with preserving history. Notre Dame has a past that so many relate to. It means so much to humanity to have something that brings people together,” he says.
Rukamba says the cathedral is more than just a place of worship. “It’s a place that promotes unity and love.”
It’s important to have something that brings people together and the cathedral has been doing just that for over 850 years.
Just like some other cathedrals, says Father Jean Baptiste Rutagarama of the Diocese of Kibungo, Notre-Dame de Paris occupies a very important place in the Catholic Church.
He explains that the building serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Paris and a sign of unity which is also symbolized in the liturgy led by the Archbishop.
“The cathedral is more than stones and bricks; it is a sign of God’s love for humanity. From this place believers are guided in the right direction to God as they praise Him. It is a path to paradise for those who live in France and for the rest of the world,” says Rutagarama.
He says the cathedral welcomes everyone because it is a house of God, a place where the Father meets his children. And with that, he declares, his downfall has effects that ripple throughout the world.
Rutagarama describes the building as a memorial that preserves the immense history of the Catholic Church that dates back over 1000 years.
“The destruction of this structure is a great loss for all Catholics. Its ruin had enormous consequences for France and for those who visited it. Visiting and simply gazing at the beauty of the cathedral, made the greatest wonder of the power and grace of God which are represented in sacred symbols.
Could the cathedral burn for does Holy Week have a meaning?
Valérie Mukandayisenga, a staunch Catholic, believes that the burning of such a historic building at a time like this sends a clear message to humanity.
“We all know that God has mysterious means of communication. We can trace this path back to the ancient times of Moses and Abraham. For Notre Dame to burn during Holy Week, I think God is trying to send us a message, this one may be about repentance and renewing our minds and souls,” she said.
Rukamba, however, notes that the destruction of the cathedral does not necessarily mean that God is speaking, as the fire could have been started by anything.
What he is certain of is the protection of God who managed to spare important symbols like the crown of thorns.
“The building would have been completely destroyed but God is still with us, He protects us all the time and the fact that it was not completely destroyed is obvious that the hand of God was there.”
“Some may think that God warns against our sins, this could be possible because God speaks in different forms, but what should matter most is the word of God telling us good and bad”, adds Rukamba.
Columnist EJ Dionne Jr. says the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, a monument to human creativity and divine inspiration, invites first a mournful silence and then a search for meaning. It often involves efforts to understand the unexplainable by reference to metaphor.
“That this former place of worship burnt down during Holy Week invites, perhaps paradoxically, hope. A time when Christians remember suffering and death and then celebrate the resurrection speaks to the desire for deliverance and renewal,” he notes.
“Because Notre-Dame was not completely destroyed by this tragedy – or by centuries of neglect, or by political threats – it can be reborn. And the possibility of revival teaches us about the tradition and its durability” , adds Dionne.
Rutagarama thinks it’s a sign that God was sending a message to people, especially in France.
“We are guided by two periods of our life on earth, that which ends (hours, days and years) and that of salvation which leads us to eternal life. The two periods complement each other and characterize us in our daily lives. We are on the way and must understand the signs of the times in which we find ourselves, this is how we will understand what God is telling us,” he said.
“Nobody doubts that there is something God is trying to tell us, many believers in France affirm it and have decided to take it in prayer, and in faith they are strong and ready to take decisions that will bring them closer to God.”
He points out that the partial destruction left many with a gift of faith and a cause to promote unity as many sacrificed themselves to help rebuild the cathedral.
“The cathedral was destroyed but the Christians were not, they continued to show their strength. They still cling to faith in God and to the strong heritage of Our Lady that will always shine in the world. »